By the time I get back from Phoenix

I’m back from Arizona and my nose is firmly pressed against the grindstone here in Brighton.

I appear to be over the worst of the jet lag. I have a method for dealing with jet lag that works surprisingly well: when I’m tired, I sleep; when I’m not tired, I don’t sleep. Admittedly that means I’ve been keeping some strange hours over the last few days, but that’s one of the advantages to working from home (one of the others being the ability to work in your pyjamas… well, not your pyjamas specifically - I mean “one’s” pyjamas).

Travelling from Phoenix to Gatwick via Dallas is enough to sap the holiday spirit of goodwill from anyone’s bones. I try not to let these things get to me but there are certain traits and patterns that I see again and again when I’m travelling by air that are really starting to bug me.

Firstly, unless you’re travelling with a cut-rate airline, you have a seat with your name on it. Nobody will take your seat. You do not need to huddle around the boarding entrance when elderly travellers or travellers with toddlers are attempting to board. Likewise, boarding by seat row means just that. Hovering won’t get you on the airplane any quicker - all it does it hold up the people who are supposed to be boarding.

Of course, the people doing the standing and hovering act are probably the ones with the biggest (and I use the term loosely) carry-on luggage. Y’know, I would just love it if, for once, airlines actually enforced their maximum dimensions for carry-on. It would cause absolute chaos but it be worth it just to enjoy the feeling of smugness as I breezed on board with nothing more than a mandolin to go in the overhead compartment.

So, okay, I can understand why you might be in a hurry to get on board - it’s because you have a bag bigger than my checked-in luggage and you want to shove it into an overhead compartment (not necessarily one near your seat; any one will do, right?). But for crying out loud, why the hurry to get off the plane? I mean, you can’t even wait until the seat belt sign is switched off? You do realise that minutes will pass before the doors even open, right?

If I was a pilot I would deliberately stop near the gate, wait a few seconds, then lurch the plane forward suddenly. Anybody injured by that manoeuvre would have it coming.

The rush to deplane is understandable on a short puddle-jump that might be followed by a connecting flight or an oh-so important meeting. But on a transatlantic flight, we are all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter who gets off the plane first, we’re all going to end up standing at the baggage carousel together. They don’t unload the baggage in order of quickest passenger of the plane first.

Ah, the baggage carousel. That wonderful anthropological paradise where you can observe multitude of people saying exactly the same thing into their mobile phones:

“Hi.” … “I just landed.” … “I’m at baggage reclaim right now.” … “Not bad - a little bit of turbulence.”

Airports should provide pre-recorded versions of those messages as a courtesy to their customers.

There are inevitably more people on an aircraft than can be lined up in single file at the baggage reclaim conveyer belt, yet everyone insists on crowding right up to the edge, thereby restrict vision and access for everyone else. If everyone just took One! Step! Back!, then everybody would be able to see when their luggage was coming and step forward at the appropriate moment to retrieve it. I try to get the ball rolling, Imo-like, by maintaining a respectful distance from the conveyer but the other 99 monkeys on my flight won’t play ball and follow my lead. Wisdom of crowds, my ass.

Have you published a response to this? :

Previously on this day

17 years ago I wrote Reading on the move

Now that I’m getting ready to head off to Arizona, I’m faced with the usual dilemma of choosing the right reading material for the trip.

17 years ago I wrote Surfing Safari

It looks like I made it back just in time to witness the birth of a browser. It’s a nifty little app from Apple called Safari.

18 years ago I wrote On the road again

The packing is just about all done and I’m ready to return to the somewhat milder climes of dear old Blighty.